Chloe Mallery, a Grade 5 student at Riverview School, reads a card during an Agriculture in the Classroom presentation by volunteer presenter Leanne Sprung on Friday afternoon. (Tim Smith/The Brandon Sun)

Grade 5 and 6 students at Riverview School in Brandon learned about the costs of food waste and how to reduce it as part of Canadian Agriculture and Literacy Month.

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, people from all areas of the agricultural sector have been able to bring their knowledge to in-class sessions, in conjunction with Agriculture in the Classroom Manitoba.

On Friday, Leanne Sprung, a leadership specialist with Manitoba Agriculture’s youth development branch, returned to Karissa Kirkup’s class to continue an interactive conversation with students.

Having visited the class before, Sprung refreshed their memory of the steps in the food supply chain, from the farm to transportation, processing and finally to retail stores and into homes. Using interactive cards the students read out, she helped them discover how food loss can happen at every part of the process.

“We want to make sure that we decrease food waste as much as possible,” Sprung told the students.

Some ways Sprung told the students to cut down on food waste were to buy food in bulk and then package it up at home, freezing some of it to save for a later date. The class enthusiastically agreed that leftovers were a delicious way to cut back on food waste.

“Save your food. Put it into little baggies and put it in the freezer,” Sprung said.

After the presentation, Sprung told the Sun she was impressed by Kirkup’s class.

“The students are always just so engaged and so willing to participate,” she said.

Although not many of the students had a direct connection to farming, Sprung expanded the way they think about the agriculture sector by pointing out that jobs such as truck driving or working at Maple Leaf Foods or Saputo are also part of the industry. With some parents working at those places, it was easier to make the connection, she said.

“A lot of kids have relatives or parents that work in different aspects of the food industry,” Sprung said. “There are so many ways that you can be involved in agriculture.”

For Charlotte Gurr, an 11-year-old Grade 5 student, learning about food loss was an eye-opening experience.

“It costs a lot for food to get thrown away,” Gurr said, adding that she plans to cut down on food waste at home by encouraging her family to eat more leftovers and to think about what they’re buying at the grocery store.

Success Okesola, another one of Kirkup’s students, said he thought it was interesting that you can still eat food after the best-before date, as long as it hasn’t gone bad.

“Food is limited,” Okesola said. “We need to know what to throw out, what to buy.”

Sprung is hopeful that for next year’s Canadian Agriculture and Literacy Month, even more volunteers like herself will step up to help teach kids about the importance of the agriculture industry.

“I would encourage anyone who has an ag story, whether you live on the farm or not, to think about volunteering next year,” she said.

A total of 6,997 students in Manitoba have taken part in this year’s programming, which aims to advance agriculture literacy across the province.

By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 25, 2023 at 08:48

This item reprinted with permission from   Brandon Sun   Brandon, Manitoba
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